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Careers Similar to Nursing
The field of professional healthcare and nursing is extensive. When many people consider entering a profession that allows them to offer support and care to others, they often think about how nurses work at a patient’s bedside. However, that’s just the beginning.
Similar jobs to nursing can be found in offices, remote settings, hospitals, and various private businesses. Depending on the direction you choose, nurses and non-nurses have their own training, education, salary, and other requirements for each profession. Opting for a non-nursing career can save time and money, enable a quick start to your career, allow maintaining a full-time job while completing necessary training, provide a fulfilling role in helping people heal, offer a wide range of job variety, and ensure job security in a rapidly growing field with numerous opportunities.
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Many skills learned in a nursing program make you eligible for different roles. If you have a broad interest in helping and caring for people, you can find a career that suits you. This article will explore top careers similar to nursing, discussing salaries, education requirements, and steps to pursue a healthcare career that fits your preferences.
Ten Careers Similar to Nursing
Nurse Assistant (CNAs)
Nurse assistants, also known as certified nursing assistants (CNAs), perform similar tasks to registered nurses in long-term care facilities and support treatment. However, this role involves fewer responsibilities and requires less education. CNAs are responsible for providing direct patient care.
These professionals are tasked with:
- Cleaning rooms and linens
- Assisting with some medical procedures
- Responding to patient calls
- Bathing patients
- Moving or turning patients
- Taking vital signs
- Stocking supplies
- Maintaining records
- Gathering patient histories
- and much more
CNAs work in various medical facilities, including hospitals, long-term residential facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, adult day care centers, and sometimes clinical facilities. They may also work in a home healthcare setting.
To become a CNA, individuals need a high school diploma and must complete a CNA training course, typically lasting a few months. In most states, CNAs must earn certification, involving a written or oral exam and a demonstration exam showcasing their ability to perform certain tasks.
While being a CNA is a valuable role, it often serves as a stepping stone to higher-paying careers. The skills acquired in this role can pave the way for career advancement. On average, CNAs earn $35,000 annually. Learn more about the duties and job outlook for certified nursing assistants.
Professional sonographers, also known as diagnostic medical sonographers, use ultrasound tools and technologies to capture images of a patient’s internal organs and tissues. This is a crucial job in healthcare, as physicians rely on these images for diagnosing illnesses and diseases, leading to life-saving treatment.
Some responsibilities of a sonographer include:
- Addressing patient questions and concerns
- Creating reports on the images to support informed diagnoses
- Evaluating the quality of sonographic images
- Maintaining and preparing diagnostic equipment
- Gathering medical histories
- And more
What makes a career in sonography exciting is the opportunity for specialization, such as adult echocardiography, obstetrics and gynecology, musculoskeletal sonography, breast sonography, abdomen and small parts, among others.
The majority of sonographers work in hospitals, but they may also be employed in medical and diagnostic laboratories.
To pursue this role, individuals typically need an associate degree with additional training and certification. On average, sonographers earn $78,000 annually.
Radiologic technologists, or rad techs, utilize specialized equipment to aid physicians in making accurate diagnoses for patients. These healthcare professionals work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Radiologic technologists are responsible for:
- Capturing accurate images
- Supporting patients and addressing their questions
- Preparing patients for diagnostic imaging and examinations
- Evaluating images for clarity
- Maintaining diagnostic imaging equipment
- Maintaining accurate patient records
- Protecting patients from unnecessary radiation exposure
A minimum requirement for this role is an associate degree, and many states mandate certification. There are also options for a bachelor’s degree in radiology to enhance career opportunities. Compared to similar careers, radiologic technologists have the potential to earn a competitive living, with an average annual salary of $63,000.
Clinical technologists collect samples from patients to conduct tests on tissues, fluids, and other materials to identify microorganisms, bacteria, or abnormal cells indicating disease or infection. They often work in hospitals, clinics, laboratories, or postsecondary schools.
Additional duties include:
- Recommending treatments
- Testing blood for drug levels
- Discussing lab results
- Detecting blood abnormalities
- Analyzing patient body fluids
- Matching donor blood for transfusions
- And more
Similar to other healthcare careers, clinical technologists can advance into specialized roles with experience and certifications, such as laboratory manager, cytotechnologist, histotechnologist, unlocking more salary opportunities.
There is a high demand for clinical technologists, making it a desirable and secure career. Typically, this role requires an associate degree with additional training and certification, depending on specialization. Clinical technologists earn an average annual salary of $62,000.
Physical Therapist Assistant
These healthcare professionals observe the moods, movement, and speech of clients undergoing physical therapist treatment courses after surgery or disability. Physical therapist assistants (PTAs) play a crucial role in patient rehabilitation.
Job responsibilities include:
- Observing individuals undergoing physical therapy
- Helping patients with physical exercises
- Applying therapeutic techniques such as massage
- Instructing patients on the usage of physical therapy equipment
- Providing education to patients and their families
Approximately 72% of PTAs work in hospitals or privately-owned physical therapy practices, while others work in home health, schools, and rehab facilities.
To become a physical therapist assistant, individuals need an associate degree and, in most states, must pass the National Physical Therapy Exam. The average annual salary for this role is $49,000.
Medical transcriptionists take notes on medical provider appointments in clinics using specialized equipment for record-keeping and treating illnesses.
Common tasks for healthcare professionals in this role include:
1. Examining patient information to ensure quality and precision
2. Arranging patient data for inclusion in clinical databases
3. Monitoring patient results for quality evaluation
4. Employing classification software to encode and classify health information
5. Documenting data for gathering, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting
6. Upholding the confidentiality, security, and accessibility of medical records
Medical transcriptionists often work for hospitals, doctors’ offices, and transcription service companies. Some are self-employed, providing an opportunity for those interested in being their own boss in the healthcare industry.
Depending on experience, professional medical transcriptionists may need a training degree to practice. These professionals typically earn around $57,000 annually.
Surgical technologists (ST) in healthcare provide specialized education and experience with surgical equipment during operating procedures and more.
Surgical technologists work directly with physicians, registered nurses, and other healthcare providers. Before medical procedures, STs set up the room with the proper tools and equipment, ensuring everything works correctly. They also prepare sterile solutions and medications for effective and safe patient treatment.
Other responsibilities include:
1. Getting patients ready for surgery through disinfection of the affected area
2. Handing instruments and sterile supplies to the surgeon throughout the procedure
3. Monitoring supplies to avoid leaving foreign objects inside the patient
4. Sustaining a hygienic environment to minimize the risk of infection
Surgical technologists work in hospital operating rooms, outpatient centers, and doctors’ offices.
Professionals in this role need certifications in some states in addition to an associate degree. Surgical technologists earn an average annual salary of $51,510. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 9% employment growth for this profession from 2020 to 2030, creating over 9,000 new jobs.
Nurse Case Manager
Nurse case managers perform various duties contributing to efficient medical care for patients.
They are responsible for:
1. Advocating for personalized treatment plans
2. Offering education and guidance for navigating complex medical decisions
3. Creating and managing the plan of care for patients with serious conditions
4. Updating and revising healthcare plans and handling claims
5. And more
Becoming a nurse case manager requires professionals to gain full credentials as a registered nurse (RN) before specializing in this field. For those passionate about holistic care and assisting patients throughout their illness and treatment, this is an excellent career path.
Nurse case managers typically work in hospitals, hospice care facilities, clinics, and private practices.
Individuals pursuing this career may benefit from an online health and human services program
or an online healthcare management degree. Nurse case managers earn $72,000 annually and can potentially earn more with a master’s degree and a nurse practitioner (NP) or registered nurse (RN) license.
Distinct from a CNA, nursing assistants perform some tasks similar to nurses in long-term care facilities and support treatment, but with less responsibility and education.
Nursing assistants’ duties include:
1. Listening to and reporting patients’ health questions and concerns
2. Turning or moving patients between beds and chairs
3. Assisting with daily living activities and providing basic care
4. Measuring patients’ vitals
5. Helping patients maintain personal hygiene
6. Dispensing medication (based on training level and state)
7. Assisting patients with dressing and using the bathroom
8. Serving meals and aiding patients in eating
Nursing assistants serve as principal caregivers in nursing and residential care facilities, often building trusting relationships with long-term patients.
To work as a nursing assistant, professionals need a high school diploma and must attend a state-approved education program. These healthcare workers earn an average annual salary of $30,000.
Pharmacy technicians dispense medication to pharmacy patrons and professionals, requiring an understanding of uses and effects.
Daily responsibilities of a pharmacy technician include:
1. Collecting patient information
2. Processing billing claims and assisting with prior authorization completion
3. Using technology to track patient records, medication inventory, and orders
4. Accurately preparing and dispensing medication to patients
5. Ensuring compliance with pharmaceutical regulations
6. Obtaining patient medication histories
7. Maintaining sterile medications
Pharmacy technicians work in pharmacies, hospitals, and grocery stores, among other healthcare settings.
Depending on the state, pharmacy technicians need to complete an accredited program and earn certification. Healthcare professionals in this role earn a median salary of $34,000.
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